Sequential Art, Comics, and You

Whether you are new to the comics medium or a seasoned reader of comics or graphic novels, the complexities of the sequential art medium offer its own rewards. Before you dive into our titles, we’ve put together a primer of what to know and why it matters.

Let’s begin with the term “sequential art.” For comics fans and for those in the industry, the term is used to describe the relationship between image and panel. When reading sequential art, it’s about what’s in front of you and also what is being left unsaid in the spaces within and between panels. For Furious Readers just starting out in comics, we recommend spending some time with Scott McCloud’s work, where he demystifies the sequential art technique and explains the value of reading comics. You can find his TED Talk and more information about Scott McCloud’s work. 

Next, we’ll break down the terms “comic,” “graphic novel,” and “artbook.” When we think of the word “comics,” we often think of the superhero escapades within Marvel and DC. However, the term is often used to identify the good old-fashioned comic strip (always a classic!). Comic strips are usually short panels - usually 3 panels - that tell a brief story. The story is usually a snapshot of a cultural conversation or the comic artist’s personal narrative. The fun of the comic strip is determining how the beginning, middle, and end will play out.

Using short panels and memorable characters, the stories in Northwood Meadows range from sweet to the absurd using the “slice of life” style. Northwood Meadows: Lifestyle takes the three panel comic and brings us a cast of colorful, witty animals going about their daily lives. This book is perfect for fans of the classic Garfield comics, Foxtrot, and The Far Side who all benefit from those spaces between the panels (known as "closure") as a source of humor.

In contrast, graphic novels build upon the comic strip and create a full narrative that reads with the same intensity as a novel. Sometimes a work of fiction and sometimes based on true events or memoir, graphic novels are considered the next step in building your sequential art collection.

Adam Wilson’s graphic novels Brian & Bobbi and In the Fallout are both stand alone graphic novels that bring heightened emotional stakes to the forefront through the use of noteworthy characters and visual depth within the panels.

Brian & Bobbi takes all of the best components of a superhero story and connects them to an unlikely duo. Fanboy Buzz shared that Brian & Bobbi is “a prime example of what the indie world has to offer.” This YA graphic novel is perfect for fans of Brian Michael Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man and My Hero Academia - action, heartfelt moments, humor, and life lessons are all on display in these books.

In the Fallout is a slim volume of experimental storytelling, featuring glowing images against black pages of an apocalyptic wasteland filled with monsters both real and imagined. A little volume with a big message, In the Fallout is a tale of loss and grief - and the hope that exists among the missing pieces. A must read for fans of Pop Gun War by Farel Dalrymple and The Last Sane Cowboy And Other Stories by Daniel Merlin Goodbrey - sometimes what's left unsaid is the most devastating.

Finally, an artbook takes all of the above components and brings them together to showcase an artist’s experience. Often called “Künstlerroman” (the German word for “artist’s novel”), the artbook invites the reader to follow their developmental awareness through words and pictures. Pursuit by Lianne Cruz is an unbelievable journey through the artist’s mind. Family traditions, creative rituals, moments of adventure, and (many) dinosaurs all make an appearance in this gorgeously illustrated collection that focuses on the pursuit of creativity. This collection is perfect for fans of Emitown by Emi Lenox and Relish by Lucy Knisley - two of our favorite authors who bring their own experiences into their art style, which is usually bright and friendly. The emotional component lies in the journey, often illustrated through wide, sweeping pages and colorful pockets.

Already a fan of Pursuit? This month we published Lianne Cruz's second title, First, a collection of her webcomic, Li Comics. This graphic memoir explores Lianne's' journey to motherhood and relies on the comic panel tradition to break down moments throughout her pregnancy.

We hope you enjoyed our brief tour of the many wonders of sequential art.

May your TBRs be overflowing with literary possibilities and beautiful illustrations!


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